Tuesday I began a bit of musing on the problem of human good and today, I’m going to continue that. I started with the statement, “If the unbeliever can do it, it’s not the Christian way of life” and used morality as an example.
Another example is that of religion and ritual. An unbelieving Jew could bring an animal for sacrifice, fulfill tenets of the Law, tithe, give and persecute those who were not Jews. Likewise today an unbeliever can attend church regularly, eat a wafer, drink some juice, pray, sing, weep, give money, etc. Many of these actions are things Christians are commanded to do in the New Testament, but if the Unbeliever can do it, it’s not the Christian way of life. So while we are to do those things, they’re still not the Christian life.
An unbeliever can study the Bible. Many Old Testament scholars, particuarly in regard to languages, were unbelievers. Many of the men who translated the Bible into the King James English were unbelievers.
Saul of Tarsus, that Hebrew of Hebrews, knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards and had it all memorized. He studied daily and strove to fulfill the Law. He persecuted Christians with great zeal, believing he was serving the Lord. But he was an unbeliever.
So studying and reading the Bible, quoting it and memorizing scriptures, being a Bible scholar, is not in itself the Christian way of life either, though studying it and knowing it is vital to living the Christian way of life.
What’s interesting about unbelievers or even non-Spirit filled believers studying the Bible is that they aren’t going to be able to understand it. The naturally minded man cannot understand the things of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1Co 2:12-14
This explains to some degree the passage in 2 Timothy that speaks of those who have a form of the Christian life, and who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2Ti 3:7
According to Vine’s Expository Dictonary, the word for form is morphosis, which is a form or an outline, an image or impress, an outward semblance — but one which is more than just an outward facade, which would have been schema. Such people have an inward form of the Christian life as well, which I take to mean that they are not just putting on an act. They actually believe that they’re doing the right thing. They believe they are in the light, thus always seeking to learn… but never coming to truth because they’re doing it in their souls, without the power of the Spirit.